Three Australians died in Thailand, including infant Melina Heppell, torn from her father’s arms. Among missing Australians is Paul Giardina, a teenager with Down syndrome. His family is concerned that Paul, if alive, hasn’t the capacity to alert anybody to his plight.
The Australian media, as you’ll note from the above links, has covered this magnificently, with incredible depth and care. Last night’s Nine news devoted 14 minutes to the Asian disaster; the only other news story it ran was to do with the Ukrainian elections. SBS broadcast the most haunting footage: several Indonesian children, dead, in a makeshift morgue. Today the Sydney Morning Herald runs a piece directing Australian readers to various major charities:
* CARE Australia. Go to the website or call 1800 020 046.
* The Australian Red Cross. Hit the link, call 1800 811 700, or post a cheque to GPO Box 9949 in your capital city.
* Oxfam; 1800 034 034.
* UNICEF; 1300 884 233.
* and World Vision; 13 32 40.
If you can’t decide on a particular charity, I suggest World Vision. Blogger Dan Gillmor provides a link for US readers who want to donate through the American Red Cross (via Giles). Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs has two help lines: call 1800 002 214 for information on relatives or friends in the disaster area, or call +61 1300 555 135 if you’re in the area and need help.
UPDATE. Malaysian blogger Larry Martin, originally from Texas, e-mails: “Death toll for Malaysia currently stands at 53 with 34 missing.” Lots more info at Larry’s site.
UPDATE II. Glenn Reynolds writes:
This weekend’s deaths were as much a result of poverty and inattention as of earth movement … the best protection against catastrophes, whether foreseen or unforeseen, is a society that is rich enough, and diverse enough, to be well-prepared for all sorts of contingencies. Which means that economic growth, and the freedom that produces it, may be the best guarantor of safety for us all. A rich society can afford to worry about things that a poorer one wouldn’t have the resources to think about.
Good point. While we worry about “global warming”, the poor are killed in their thousands by an actual menace. Meanwhile various entities campaign against the free trade that would make the poor richer … and safer.
UPDATE III. SE Asian bloggers, please post links and updates in comments. Australia needs to know as much as possible about this.
UPDATE IV. Six Australians are now confirmed dead, including Paul Giardina.
World Vision hopes to raise $15 million in donations. I’m in for fifty bucks.
Every stock market open for trading in Asia was down last night.
Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan avoided a tsunami in Galle by minutes.
UPDATE V. The US has prepared an initial $15 million aid package, and sent three surveillance aircraft from Japan. Eight Americans died in the disaster. Israel has dispatched an emergency medical team to Sri Lanka, and is sending food and medicine to other countries.